Detection and enumeration of Cryptosporidium parvum in both treated and untreated waters are important to facilitate prevention of future cryptosporidiosis incidents. Immunomagnetic separation (IMS)-fluorescent antibody (FA) detection and IMS-PCR detection efficiencies were evaluated in two natural waters seeded with nominal seed doses of 5, 10, and 15 oocysts. IMS-FA detected oocysts at concentrations at or below the three nominal oocyst seed doses, illustrating that IMS-FA is sensitive enough to detect low oocyst numbers. However, the species of the oocysts could not be determined with this technique. IMS-PCR, targeting the 18S rRNA gene in this study, yielded positive amplification for 17 of the 18 seeded water samples, and the amplicons were subjected to restriction fragment length polymorphism digestion and DNA sequencing for species identification. Interestingly, the two unseeded, natural water samples were also PCR positive; one amplicon was the same base pair size as the C. parvum amplicon, and the other amplicon was larger. These two amplified products were determined to be derived from DNA of Cryptosporidium muris and a dinoflagellate. These IMS-PCR results illustrate that (i) IMS-PCR is able to detect low oocyst numbers in natural waters, (ii) PCR amplification alone is not confirmatory for detection of target DNA when environmental samples are used, (ii) PCR primers, especially those designed against the rRNA gene region, need to be evaluated for specificity with organisms closely related to the target organism, and (iv) environmental amplicons should be subjected to appropriate species-specific confirmatory techniques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology